Sickness & Health

Courses in this cluster examine the biological, cultural, and political-economic dimensions of health, illness, and healing historically and in the present.

Course Descriptions

CC100: Discovery of New Antibiotics: From the Laboratory Bench to Bedside

Instructor: Amy Dounay & Olivia Hatton
Learning Across the Liberal Arts Designation: Scientific Analysis
CRN# 13885
Block: 1

Antibiotics are one of the primary tools we have to treat bacterial infections and have saved millions of lives. However, the increasing prevalence of multi-drug resistant bacterial infections presents a significant challenge for science and society. How do antibiotics work and how does antibiotic resistance develop? How do scientists discover novel antibiotics and other medicines? How are new medicines tested for safety and efficacy? In this course, we will explore how new medicines are designed, tested, marketed, and administered in the community. Throughout, we will consider how these processes have benefitted or marginalized different identity groups. Finally, students will participate in a collaborative research project to test potential novel antibiotics for the treatment of biofilm-mediated bacterial infections. This course is designed for students who are not currently planning to major in the chemical or biological sciences and/or are taking the course to satisfy the Scientific Analysis general education requirement.

Note: students can anticipate a few afternoon classes or lab sessions during the block.

CC120: Failure

Instructor: Adam Light
CRN# 13886
Block: 3

Failure is at the heart of science. Experiments whose results are consistent with expectations do little to challenge our views, practices, culture, or boundaries. Nevertheless, we operate in competitive systems with success-based metrics, participate in culture that elevates those who are deemed successful, and often judge ourselves harshly when we fail. This course will explore what it means to fail and how we tell the story of failure, particularly in the field of physics. Who writes the stories? When and how is failure justifiably framed as success? How can we think and communicate about failing in ways that are healthy and productive? In the process of considering these questions, students will investigate a variety of scientific genres, texts, and practices. We will also embark on open-ended research projects for students to practice the process of scientific failure and communicate about their work.

Note: Possible evening theater attendance; occasional afternoon lab/research work depending on student projects.


CC100: Writing the Body & Disability

Instructor: Dot Devota
Learning Across the Liberal Arts Designation: Creative Process
CRN# 13887
Block: 1

In this class, we will read and write essays that attend to---and create greater awareness and support for---the body. Many of the writers we will study are women, BIPOC, and trans and non-binary people who share their experiences with illness and impairment, as well as its effect on their creative writing practices. This includes authors living with chronic pain, mental health issues, autoimmunity, and mysterious forms of illness---all largely misunderstood by the “medical industrial complex” and amidst the increasing impact climate change has on our health. Foregrounding the course is the distinction between the Medical Model of Disability versus the Social Model of Disability. Sunaura Taylor and Judith Butler clarify: ”Disability is the social repression of people with impairments.” This class examines the structures within writing disciplines that dictate how we are to write and who has privilege within creative process systems. By identifying and describing the various physical and virtual spaces we write in, we can begin to study organizational frameworks in the teaching and reproduction of creative writing—what can be referred to as the architexture of writing, in which structural mechanisms create disability and set-off various inequities. We will discuss values around work ethic and labor/productivity, grammar and standard white English language supremacy, writing as a technological construct, pathways to publication, and access to social/institutional support and resources. We will examine expectations and traditional modes around creative writing output, and then challenge writing practices that are injurious, ableist, exclusionary, and disabling. Ultimately, we will ask ourselves, What is the relationship between writing disciplines and our personal and collective health? What is the relationship between authorship and social justice? We will be introduced to liberatory writing and revision, as well as various experimental practices that accommodate embodied experience and prioritize ecosystems of care, so that we might all find greater agency in how we can approach and cultivate our most meaningful relationship to our own writing practice.

CC120: Making Monsters

Instructor: Sarah Keleher
CRN# 13888
Block: 4

This course explores how texts make monsters. We will focus on texts in which monsters are literally made, whether through biological generation or scientific experimentation. Our investigation will carry us from the 1500s to today, with course texts including sixteenth-century monstrous birth pamphlets, nineteenth-century novels, and modern short stories by Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, and Greg Egan. We will apply multiple disciplinary modes of inquiry to unpack the ideologies encoded in constructions of monstrousness. How, for example, do the characteristics attributed to monsters overlap with disability, race, class, gender, and sexual orientation? How do depictions of monsters relate to and challenge understandings of the human/animal divide? How does identification interact with exclusion in the construction of monstrousness? We will seek not only to analyze and critique concepts of monstrousness but also to find the possibilities for hope and growth that thinking about monsters can generate: possibilities for empathy, inclusion, and imagination. Throughout this course, we will study and practice the forms of making that go into college-level academic writing and knowledge production. We will hone our craft as literary makers in our own right.


CC100: Mathematical Modeling of Infectious Diseases

Instructor: David Brown
Learning Across the Liberal Arts Designation: Formal Reasoning & Logic
CRN# 13889
Block: 1

The content of the course will focus on mathematical models of infectious diseases, primarily viruses. You may have read about "herd immunity" and “R_0” in the past couple of years; these are classic results from population-level epidemic models. In the first half of the class, we will study models like these. Then we will move to models of the interaction between a virus and the immune system in a single infected individual. We will study how mathematical models are developed and analyzed, and how they can be modified for a wide range of situations. We will explore what can and can’t be learned from models – the strengths and weaknesses of this approach to science. Mathematical modeling in biology is a relatively young field, and biology is vast. Thus, it isn’t hard to develop your own research questions, the answers to which may not yet be known.

CC120: Political Parties, Social Movements, and Change

Instructor: Jill Jaeger
Block: 4

This course examines when and how political parties respond to social movements.  Using two distinct movements, environmental justice and anti-immigrant, our class will consider the following questions: How do social movements influence the platforms and unity of party organizations? How politically important are social movements to policy change? Through this lens, students will learn how to identify the kinds of research questions that push knowledge forward, the importance of creating a dialogue between themselves and other scholars in their written work, and why the quantitative and qualitative tools we choose might provide us with different insights to the same research question.


Report an issue - Last updated: 06/20/2022